Voorheesville Quiet Zone
Improved Safety and a Better Quality of Life
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Update November 2015
After six months CSX finally responded to Mayor Conway’s April 2015 letter requesting an explanation of why the cost of the preliminary engineering design in 2015 was triple the figure given to us by CSX in 2013. Unfortunately, the letter was almost completely unresponsive to the questions that were asked. The Mayor is setting up a meeting of the principal parties to try to come to resolution on this matter.
On November 21, Assemblymember Pat Fahy hosted a morning coffee hour at the Voorheesville Public Library. Several members of the Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville attended and we had the opportunity to explain the need for a quiet zone in Voorheesville and our work to date. Ms. Fahy was quite interested and supportive and asked that we forward our fact sheet to her staff. We were also pleased to see Town Supervisor-elect Doug LaGrange and Town Board member Pat Snyder in attendance. Mr. LaGrange expressed support for the quiet zone and asked to be kept informed of developments.

See our updated Fact Sheet
Update August 23, 2015

On August 10, 2015 members of the Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville along with County Legislators Reilly and Mackey, met with John Evers, the Chief of Operations for Albany County. The meeting was later joined by County Executive Dan McCoy. We updated the County officials on events to date, particularly the problems with CSX/Bergmann Associates and the lack response from either party. Dr. Evers expressed his support for the quiet zone and said he would follow up on our concerns. After the meeting Dr. Evers contacted Robert Rohauer, Manager, CSX Community Affairs and Safety. Mr. Rohauer has agreed to get the answers from CSX that we trust will enable the quiet zone project to move forward.

We appreciate the support of County Executive McCoy and his staff for the Voorheesville Quiet Zone.

Steven Schreiber


Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville.

Update June 14, 2015

I wish I could to report on progress in developing the quiet zone since our last posting but that is not the case.

We have run into a wall of delay and non-response on the part of CSX. It is difficult not to conclude that CSX is ignoring the efforts of Albany County and Voorheesville to establish a quiet zone. In so doing they are thwarting the will of Congress, which recognized the benefits of quiet zones to communities - including enhanced quality of life, improved property values and, as shown conclusively by the Federal Railroad Administration, increased safety.The quiet zone project will succeed only if there is strong citizen support for it and that support is expressed forcefully to CSX, our elected officials and the media.


In 2013 CSX provided us a written proposal of $26,818 to complete an engineering design for a four-quadrant gate system. In addition, CSX provided a preliminary estimate of $200,000 for total project costs. The engineering design was to provide final cost estimates. The Albany County Legislature appropriated $27,500 for the design and in August 2014, per quiet zone regulations, the Albany County Department of Public Works issued a Notice of Intent to Establish a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville. In March 2015, after six months of effort on the part of the Village, the engineering firm retained by CSX to do the engineering design responded with a proposal for a design costing $87,000. Efforts by the Village to get clarification on their proposal since then have received no response. The Village and the Committee have contacted Congressman Tonko for his assistance in this matter.

Steve Schreiber

Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville
Update March 31, 2015
There will be a meeting on March 31, 2015, 7:00 pm at the Voorheesville Fire House to discuss ideas for improving the business and residential environment of Main Street. See flyer for details. A quiet zone would go far to improve Main Street (and the rest of Voorheesville). Come to the meeting and make sure that idea gets included in the discussion.  

Update -January 2, 2015

As you know, we have been waiting for CSX to begin the engineering design that will provide the specifications and final cost figures for the installation of four-quad gates at the Voorheesville railroad crossings. At the December 16, 2014 Voorheesville Village Board meeting, Mayor Conway reported that the firm retained by CSX to perform the engineering design had contacted the Village to begin the process. The Village is developing a work agreement with the consultant.

Update - October 29, 2014
As you may recall, the Notice of Intent to Establish a Quiet Zone (NOI) was sent out on August 15, 2014 to the parties that are required to receive it. They were given 60 days to respond. A few days later CSX responded with no comments and gave the name of a person to whom the consultant working for the Village should contact. Several efforts over the next several weeks to get a response from the CSX contact were unsuccessful but last week CSX finally responded, with a promise to get the paperwork moving that will enable the engineering design to begin.
Whether the delay on the part of CSX in responding was because of its desire to wait for any comments to the NOI from the Federal Railroad Administration or the NYS Department of Transportation (there weren’t), or simply other priorities is unknown. In any case it appears things are moving again.

Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville

Update - August 26, 2014

The Notice of Intent to Establish a Quiet Zone was sent out by the Albany County Department of Public Works to the required parties two weeks ago. CSX responded with no comments and gave the name of a contact person with whom the Voorheesville consultant engineer should speak regarding the initiation of the engineering design.

So things are moving.
On August 13th County Executive Dan McCoy visited the New Scotland Town Board as part of his listening tour of Albany County. We took that opportunity to express to him the importance of a quiet zone to Voorheesville and also our appreciation for the County's support of an engineering design to get the final cost figures for the quiet zone. He indicated that safety and quality of life issues associated with railroads were very important issues on his agenda and would continue to be so.
Update - August 8, 2014

The Notice of Intent to Establish a Quiet Zone (NOI), which must be issued before CSX will begin the engineering design, was sent in the past week to the Albany County Commissioner of Public Works (DPW). The County will be responsible for sending the NOI to the parties that are required to receive it under federal regulations. The NOI is currently under review by the DPW.

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy cancelled his July 22nd visit to Voorheesville. The County Executive’s website does not show a date for rescheduling his visit. However, he will be at the New Scotland Town Hall on Wednesday evening August 13th. The time is not indicated on the website.

Steve Schreiber
Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville

NEW!! July 2014

As you may know, the County provided $27,500 to the Village of Voorheesville to obtain an engineering design for four-quadrant gates at both crossings in the village. The installation of the gates is necessary for the quiet zone project to go forward. Preliminary estimates provided by CSX last year were that the total cost would be less than $200,000. The engineering design, which will be done by CSX, will develop specifications and final cost figures.  The Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville would like to thank County Legislators Mackey and Reilly and Mayor Conway for their efforts in securing funding for the design.

Implementation of the quiet zone essentially involves 3 steps. First, the public authority with jurisdiction over the roads that cross the tracks, in this case the County, must issue a Notice of Intent (NOI) to establish a quiet zone. Second, the safety improvements, i.e. installation of four-quad gates, must be made. Third, a Notice of Establishment of the quiet zone must be issued.

The Village’s engineering firm Barton and Loguidice (B&L) is coordinating efforts to develop the engineering design. The Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville is working with B&L and agreed to prepare the NOI without charge in order to save funds that would otherwise have to be spent by the Village for that purpose.

CSX has stated that an NOI must be issued before work begins on the engineering design. A draft NOI has been prepared and we are waiting to hear from the Federal Railroad Administration what additional information, if any, is needed. Our hope is that the engineering design will confirm the initial cost figures. Even so, no source of funding has been identified for the actual construction of the four-quad gates. The more community support there is for the quiet zone, the more likely it will happen. You can show your support by coming to the Village Hall on July 22nd from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. County Executive McCoy will be there as part of his "listening tour" of the County. He needs to hear from us. Also, if you are on Facebook please go to to our page "Voorheesville Quiet Zone" and "like" the page.
See our latest fact sheet.

What is the problem?

Each day an estimated 50-70 trains pass through Voorheesville.  The blasts of train horns, which occur at 2 crossings 1200 feet apart, disturb sleep and conversation; reduce property values; and can contribute to stress and hearing loss. Since the 1980s the volume of train traffic in Voorheesville has more than doubled.  It will likely continue to increase as the nation's economy improves and the population grows. Even those not living near the train are exposed to the noise when using the Village Park, driving through or walking in the center of the village. Trains are a part of Voorheesville’s history and play a vital role in our economy. They were here before we came and will likely be here when we are gone. While we cannot reduce the amount of train traffic we can do something about train horn noise.


What are quiet zones?

Federal regulations enacted in 2005 and amended in 2006, permit the establishment of railroad quiet zones, that is, areas in which trains will not sound their horns as they approach and enter the railroad crossing.  The regulations specify the kinds of safety improvements that are required for the quiet zones and the procedures necessary for their approval.  Under the new regulations, 492 quiet zones have been established.  Prior to 2005, 1374 quiet zones existed under the old regulations. Hundreds of communities across the US, many like Voorheesville, have implemented quiet zones that are safe, workable and affordable.  A quiet zone in Voorheesville would bring peace of mind, increase property values and create a more attractive environment in the downtown area for current and future businesses.

The Public Authority responsible for maintaining the roadways that cross the tracks takes the lead in establishing the quiet zone.  In our case it is Albany County.  However, the support of the Voorheesville Village Board of Trustees is important to that task. In New York State several communities are in various stages of exploring, planning, implementing or enjoying a quiet zone. These include Cohoes,The Town of Hamburg, KingstonLittle Neck and Rockland County.

Are quiet zones safe?

In a quiet zone the engineer can always sound his horn in any type of emergency or hazardous situation, for example, when there are pedestrians, workers or vehicles or animals on the tracks. All railroad crossings  continue to have gates, bells and flashing lights. Signs are posted indicating that the train will not sound its horn. As shown by the Federal Railroad Administration, the safety upgrades that are required for establishing a quiet zone more than compensate for any increased risk that comes with silencing of the horns. A quiet zone would be SAFER than what we now have in Voorheesville.


What kind of safety improvements are required for a quiet zone?
There are several kinds of safety improvements (Supplemental Safety Measures) that the federal government approves for quiet zones. The four-quadrant gate system is the most desirable and involves the least amount of disruption to the area surrounding the crossings.  Under the four-quad system two gates are added to the two presently at each crossing. When a train approaches and the four gates are down, the motorist is prevented from pulling out of line in front of a lowered crossing gate in an effort to cross the intersection before the locomotive arrives.
As described below, we originally advocated for the channelization device/median barrier as the preferred type of  safety improvement because we believed that the cost of that approach was dramatically lower than initial cost estimate of $1,000,000 given for four-quad gates given by  Barton and Loguidice PC, the Village's engineering firm. However, neither the County nor the Voorheesville Village Board were willing to endorse that approach. At the same time both gave their support to the four-quad gates option. Since a lower four-quad gates cost estimate has been confirmed by CSX and the Village Board, we now support the four-quad gate option for Voorheesville.

Examples of Supplemental Safety Measures (SSMs)
Four-Quadrant Gates
See a Four-quad gate in action here.
More Photos of SSMs

What is the cost?

Cost estimates vary widely depending on the type of safety measure implemented. Every situation is unique.

As stated above, in December 2012 the estimated  cost of a four-quadrant gate system, was given as $1,000,000 by the Village engineering consultant.  However CSX has provided a more recent estimate of less than $200,000 that is based on an actual assessment of equipment already in place at both crossings. Two hundred thousand dollars borrowed at 4% for 20 years would result in a cost of a little over 3.5 cents a day for the average household in Voorheesville assessed at $208,600. The estimated cost would be reduced by any grants that the Village could obtain.


What funding is available?
Funding for quiet zones is available from a variety of sources including the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (see page 13 of report),  federal stimulus funding, transportation grants, and special legislative grants. In the case of New York, the Town Hamburg quiet zone received a $475,000 grant through Senator Schumer. The Little Neck quiet zone received $250,000 through Congressman Gary Ackerman and also State Senator Frank Padavan , Rockland County received $3.5 million through Congresspersons Engel, Lowey and KellyNYS Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, has also been supportive of quiet zones.

Efforts to Date

in April 2012, the Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville was established. In August, the Committee presented a petition to the Voorheesville Village Board of Trustees containing the signatures of 358 Village residents asking the Board to take the necessary steps to create a quiet zone. Since that time many more residents added their names to our mailing list. Over the summer of 2012 Village residents also wrote letters to the Altamont Enterprise in support of a quiet zone (see Letters/Press page of this website). 
October 2012 the Board agreed to fund a preliminary study of quiet zone options.
December 2012 -The quiet zone study was presented to the Village Board but the study examined only the four-quadrant gate option. The study estimated the cost of four-quadrant gates at $1 million, making this approach basically not feasible for Voorheesville.  The Board stated that, although funds were available to study the median option, which was likely to be much less expensive than four-quadrant gates, the study would not go forward because the county had certain objections to median barriers. The Board was unable to say what those objections were.
January 2013 - The Board held a meeting in January at which time Commissioner Duncan of the Albany County Department of Public Works presented seven sentence memo stating his issues with median barriers. The Committee was given no opportunity to question him further nor to share any information with him that would address his concerns.

February 2013 - The Committee presented a proposal for a quiet zone to the Board that would use channelization devices or median barriers. The estimated cost of this proposal, which would involve some road rerouting, was
$186,000 to $300,000. Also included in that presentation were specific responses to the points in Mr. Duncan's January memo, which we asked the Board to convey to him. The Village Board said it preferred to ask Mr.Duncan first to clarify his objections to median barriers before responding to the points in his memo. The Village Board and the Committee agreed on a set of questions which the Mayor sent to Mr. Duncan in March.

April 2013 – In an effort to expedite a response from the County DPW, the Committee set up a meeting at the County Executive’s Office. In an attempt to be inclusive, we invited members of the Village Board to join us. Attending were Mr. Duncan; the Deputy County Executive; the County Director of Operations; the County Director of Communications; the Deputy Commissioner of the County DPW; Board trustees, Cardona and Stevens; and three members of the Committee. The Committee shared with the parties at the meeting, documentation that included federal agency reports; regulations; university studies; and feedback from consultants, vendors, and communities that have quiet zones. This information clearly supported the case for using channelization devices or median barriers for a quiet zone in Voorheesville and we asked that the information be considered in Mr. Duncan’s response.

May 2013 – Mr. Duncan’s response was received. It was largely a repeat of the points in his January 2013 memo. It appeared that he did not understand our proposal nor did it include reference to any of the information presented to him in April 2013 meeting. The Committee  drafted a suggested response for the Board of Trustees to send to Mr. Duncan that would address his concerns.  At the May 28th Village Board meeting, the Board said it would not consider our draft letter nor would it work with the Committee to develop an alternative response. County Executive McCoy was in attendance at the Board meeting as part of his listening tour of Albany County. We asked Mr. McCoy if the County would keep an open mind on channelization devices/median barriers. He gave a generally affirmative answer to the effect that the County was willing to work with us to find a solution. We are continuing to work with the County Executive's office.
June 2013 - On June 18th the Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville sent this response to Commissioner Duncan.
July 2013 - The engineering consultant for the Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville, Mr. Vinny Valetutti, consulted directly with Mr. Les Scherr, the Project Manager for Public Projects for Northeastern US and Canada.  Mr. Scherr gave an estimate for the cost of four-quadrant gates at less than $200,000. He added that, based on an actual field assessment, most of the specialized  equipment needed for the four-quad gates was already in place. Mr Scherr provided a proposal for an engineering design (included in the estimate)  that would cost $27,000 and would produce the project specifications and the final cost figures.
August 2013 - Mr Scherr's information was presented to the Village Board of Trustees. The Board stated that it wanted to have the engineering firm, Barton and Loguidice PC, which conducted the original study of four-quad gates, to contact CSX to determine if they were all in agreement with the new estimates provided by Mr. Scherr.
September 2013 - Barton and Loguidice reported to the consultant for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville and to the Voorheesville Village Board, that they had contacted CSX and accepted the numbers of Mr. Scherr as the best estimate for the costs four-quadrant gates.
At the September 24th Village Board meeting, the Mayor reported that he had had some preliminary conversations with a potential funding source for the engineering design.